(KMOV) – Roads have re-opened after a threat of a MRI machine explosion prompted closures as well as home and business evacuations in Sunset Hills Thursday night, officials say.
The MRI machine in question is located at the SSM Imaging Center at 3825 S. Lindbergh. The New Year’s Eve tornado and storm damaged the building, which also likely damaged the MRI machine.
The mitigation team going through buildings after the tornado discovered that the machine was still on and that it posed a hazard.
GE manufactures the MRI machine, and the company were investigating. Crews vented helium from the MRI machine Friday morning.
If the helium inside the machine was not ventilated and air or water got into the system, ice could form. This could cause a blockage of letting that gas out, and pressure buildup from the helium gas can cause an explosion.
South Lindbergh was closed between East Watson and West Watson roads for several hours.
Residents and businesses within 330 feet of the SSM Imaging Center were evacuated. They were told to report to a local community center.
These evacuations come not even a week after the New Year's Eve tornado that ravaged the Sunset Hills area and forced many residents out of their homes.
Statement from SSM Health Care-St. Louis
During an evaluation [Thursday afternoon] of the former SSM Imaging Center at 3825 South Lindbergh Blvd. in Sunset Hills, it was discovered that a remaining MRI machine posed a potential risk of explosion during the wind down process. This hazard is due to the damage that was sustained during the tornado that destroyed the building on Dec. 31. There is NO risk of chemical or radiation exposure and minimal chance -- less than 1 percent -- of explosion.
However, since safety is our top priority, as soon as we were made aware of the issue we alerted the local public safety officials to address and secure the area. We are working with the manufacturer, General Electric, around the clock to determine the safest solution to resolve the danger as soon as possible.
The appropriate experts are working on the issue throughout the night and we expect to have an update by mid-day [Friday].